Monday, April 2, 2018

Homily for the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday

All Seven Old Testament readings
Rom 6:3-11
Mk 16:1-7 
Liturgy speaks for itself if we listen carefully. This is particularly true of the Sacred Triduum that is celebrated so magnificently in all its fullness in this monastery. The liturgy speaks for itself at all times and in all places, from the hidden Masses of the Carthusians, to the splendor of this Abbey Church ringing with the ancient chants, to the parish noon Mass on the fourth Thursday in ordinary time. The prayers, readings, and actions are polyvalent. But they lead to, proclaim, and illuminate the same truth, the only truth. . . Jesus, Risen from the Dead
"Hæc nox est,
in qua, destrúctis vínculis mortis,
Christus ab ínferis victor ascéndit." 
"This is the night
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld."
God's first words in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, the beginning of history as we know it, are: “Let there be light.” And so we heard, 
"Hæc nox est,
de qua scriptum est:
Et nox sicut dies illuminábitur:
et nox illuminátio mea in delíciis meis."
"This is the night
that is as bright as day,
dazzling is the night
and full of gladness"
The paschal candle was carried into the church with the words: 
"Lumen Christi"
"Christ our Light." 
Each of us held that light as it spread from taper to taper filling this exquisite space with new light from the Paschal Candle.
"Hæc ígitur nox est,
quæ peccatórum ténebras
colúmnæ illuminatióne purgávit."
"This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
the darkness of sin was banished."
We will hold those candles again during the blessing of the water as we recall the parted waters of the Red Sea that gave the people, led by the column of fire, life and hope. We will renew our baptismal promises and recall the saving waters that gave us life.
Mark’s Gospel, the Good News of the Resurrection, is cinematically detailed. We know dawn was just breaking. We know what the women were carrying. We know their concerns about the size of the stone. Imagine the astonished looks when they saw that the stone had been rolled away and their chagrin when told, "He is not here." Place yourself in that scene. Stand there in amazement, confusion, and fear. What do you feel? What are you thinking? What do you want to say? 
"O vere beáta nox,
in qua terrénis cæléstia,
humánis divína iungúntur!"
"O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven
are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human."
With the final blessing a liturgy of fifty hours will end. We will go forth to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ our Lord. Listen again to the words from the blessing of the paschal candle. They tell us everything we need to know.
yesterday and today
the beginning and the end.
Alpha and Omega;
all time belongs to him,
and all the ages;
to him be glory and power,
through every age forever." 
We can only add: 
Deo Gratias
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

I meant to post this after the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.  Foolish idea.  The Mass began at 8 PM and ended at 11 PM.  By the time we got back to the house it was close to midnight.  I'm not certain I could remember my computer password by then.  Celebrating the entire Triduum at the abbey is a great privilege.  It is also physically grueling
.  The candle in the photo below is 15 pounds.  The priest is the only one to carry it.  

It took about five minutes to get a taper lit from the paschal fire before the Paschal Candle could be lit.  The wind was shipping in multiple directions.  Rather than chanting the first Lumen Christi on the small porch outside the monastic church we took it inside the vestibule where there was no wind.  It stayed lit the entire time.  

Drove home yesterday immediately after the morning Mass.  I made the mistake of remaining for lunch several years ago resulting in an extra hour on the the normally 2 1/2 drive from CT to Boston.  By the time I got off the Mass Pike traffic was getting quite heavy.  

The photo shows the paschal candle that had just been brought into the sacristy wrapped in a wool blanket.  The tray contains the stylus needed to inscribe the candle, the grains of incense, and the nails that are inserted over the grains of incense.  The Abbey makes  its own candles.  This one was made three years ago so as to allow it to cure.  

Have a most Blessed Easter
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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